In case you missed it, I traveled to the Bahamas back in May of this year (3 months ago) to undergo fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT).
You can read previous posts to learn all about why I decided to go and my tips and accommodations for success.
Did it work?
I know you want to know this. And you probably want a simple answer, too.
But the truth is, it really isn’t simple. Health is a constantly moving target and it can be challenging to sort out what is influencing your symptoms.
I usually try to be very methodical about introducing new supplements, habits, foods, etc. But unfortunately (or fortunately?), real life is not quite as controlled as a science lab.
The simplest answer I can give you is this:
I think FMT helped with some things:
- Increased tolerance to high FODMAP vegetables– I was already tolerating onions and garlic daily before I decided to undergo FMT, but would still experience constipation with veggies such as asparagus and peas. I now have a higher tolerance.
- Clearer skin (goodbye, bacne and jaw-line zits!)– but this could also be from even further reduction/nearly elimination of sugar.
- Overall improved digestion– this was only a slight change as I was already doing quite well. But it is difficult to compare my current symptoms to how I felt before FMT as this is the first time in years that I have gone an entire 3+ months without taking an antimicrobial supplement- so I may be underestimating my improvement in this regard.
But FMT did not seem to help with these symptoms:
I thought maybe the below symptoms had improved slightly while in the Bahamas, but unfortunately, the improvement may have just been a coincidence because they have since worsened.
It can be hard to tell whether a remedy is effective for me because my symptoms fluctuate with my menstrual cycles (my symptoms worsen right before ovulation and menstruation).
Now that it has been three months, I can tell you that the following symptoms are still speaking to me loud and clear.
- Chronic vaginal yeast infections
- Extreme fatigue
- Frequent sore throat
- Intolerance to wheat (or gluten? or both?), oats, dairy, fruit, sugar, and refined grains/starches
What do I make of this?
Prior to going to the Bahamas, the doctor there told me that we needed to get the yeast under control in order to optimize the chances of the FMT working properly.
Unfortunately, the protocol that they sent me contained supplements that had not been effective for me in the past.
So we decided it would be best for me to use medications/supplements that I had noticed were more effective for me. Primarily Nystatin (prescription antifungal) and Thorne SF722 (antifungal supplement). Unfortunately, the thing with yeast is that it tends to develop resistance rather quickly. So a treatment would work for a while and then lose its effectiveness.
Then, for the FMT prep, I consumed gatorade (cringe) for electrolytes because I couldn’t find coconut water. The yeast flared up BIG TIME. In hindsight, I wish I would have brought stevia-sweetened electrolyte packets with me.
I believe inadequate control of yeast prior to the treatment could be a potential reason why it wasn’t as effective as we had hoped.
What am I doing next?
1) Keeping sugar consumption to a minimum
The biggest change between my diet before and after FMT has been less consumption of sugar and refined carbs/starches (primarily white rice and potato). I wasn’t consuming a significant amount before treatment (less than 24 grams added sweeteners daily and not more than 1 or 2 servings daily of refined starches).
But I drastically reduced my sugar and refined grain/starch intake after FMT. In fact, I believe I consumed less than 1 tablespoon of sugar within the month after FMT. Not an easy feat in our modern world. But I continued because it seemed to make a difference. Since then, I had times where sugar creeped back in, but never to an excessive degree.
And I often go a week at a time without any added sugars.
I am not paranoid or militant about it, but I try to avoid it as much as I can because I feel better that way. So I plan to continue limiting my sugar consumption.
2) Working alongside my health practitioner to seek more answers
Although I know a lot about health, I think it is important to avoid attempting to be your own doctor. An objective view can help rule out any serious conditions and avoid self-diagnosing via doctor Google.
But being a self-advocate for your health? I am all about that!
Those of us with chronic illness are notorious for having our health conditions dismissed by doctors or led to believe we are somehow causing our symptoms (via stressing about our health, for example).
Due to a change in health insurance coverage, I have been trying to work within the conventional medical system so that my appointments are covered by insurance.
Unfortunately, my conventional medicine doc seems puzzled by what could be going on with me and is of the mindset that candida overgrowth only happens in severely compromised individuals. I am open to hearing her perspective, but if she ultimately has no solutions for me, I plan to ask for a referral to a naturopathic doctor who may able to provide more insight.
I do not regret going to the Bahamas for FMT as it seemed like a logical next step with low risk.
Although I was initially very disappointed that the FMT was less fruitful (get that pun? I wish I could eat more fruit!) than I hoped, I am grateful for the minor improvements I experienced. And I know there are always more things to try.
The future is bright, my friends!
Katie Dwaileebe says
I read your series of blogs on this, Riley, and just wanted to reach out and say thank you so much for sharing this – I have a hard time being vulnerable on my blog because I feel like I always have to have it together with my health, when the truth is that almost everyone struggles with their health at some point – even healthcare practitioners. I like what you said about avoiding being our own doctors. I have found some amazing holistic practitioners and am so thankful to be in their care, but it took time for me to admit that I did need outside help with my health. It’s always a journey!
Wishing you the best and hoping that you continue to find relief in the months to come!
Thank you for your kind words! I can definitely relate to the feeling of being afraid to be vulnerable about health issues due to judgment from others. You are so right that almost everyone struggles with their health at some point! I find that I am often the one presenting solutions to my healthcare practitioners, but it it still so nice to have someone who has seen what has worked for other people to chime in!
Plants evolved on this earth long before the first animals. For the most part, plants do not like to be eaten. The exception is when plants use animals to eat their fruit, pass the seeds through their digestive tracts, and poop the fertilized seed out to the jungle floor. Because plants cannot bite or run to protect themselves (fight or flight), being the magnificent chemists that they are, plants have developed poisons to dissuade would-be predators. Search: lectins, salicylates, oxalates, & histamines. In fact, the majority of plant life is non edible. If you were trying to survive in the wilderness without plant knowledge, you would surely poison yourself (& possibly die). In contrast, there are very few animals that will poison you after consumption. Mostly insects. Humans do very well on flesh.
What’s the point? I have (or have had) all your symptoms and then some. I am considering FMT and found your blog posts while searching for patient reviews. I hate to see suffering like yours (I empathize) and wanted to share that I have resolved 50 to 60% of my symptoms on the carnivore diet. “Gasp!” Yes, The maligned carnivore diet. Once I got adapted (that took a long time), the benefits were exceptional. I cannot believe how well I feel today. But, I wish that I could go back to eating a more varied diet. So, I was hoping that FMT could get me there. From your post here, it does not look encouraging.
There is a lot of people like me and you. You’d be surprised how many have vastly improved on the meat only diet. If you are curious, I recommend zerocarbzen dot com and mikhaila peterson dot com.
Thank you for sharing your experience! And I’m sorry to hear you have dealt with some of the same symptoms I have.
I can imagine that the carnivore diet would provide symptomatic relief for those struggling to break down plant-based foods. From a nutrition perspective, however, I have some serious concerns about it and would not feel comfortable recommending a carnivore diet due to the difficulty in obtaining essential nutrients such as vitamin C. Additionally, I foresee issues with expense, sustainability, and other non-nutrition factors. Nonetheless, I am glad to hear you have found something that works for you as I can relate to the frustration of feeling unwell and not having answers.
Although I have not written about it yet (I like to wait at least 1-2 months- preferably longer- after experiencing improvement before sharing my experience on my website or social media channels), I have experienced a very significant improvement in my digestive symptoms since doing at-home FMT top-up at the beginning of January. It is essentially the exact same treatment they do at the FMT clinic, but you do it at home with a kit they provide. I plan to write more about this experience in the future, but just wanted to share this with you as it relates specifically to this post and your comment.
Hello Riley – I appreciate the reply and the info on the at-home FMT. Taymount said that they would send me home with 2 samples if I chose to do the procedure. One more question if that is ok: How would you rate the Taymount facility and the staff?
Yes, that’s exactly what they do. I found everyone I worked with to be caring, thorough, and professional. The nurse who did the procedure was especially amazing (so kind, knowledgeable, and made the experience extremely comfortable)! My only “complaint” (if you can even call it that- I’m sure there’s a better word) was that there were a couple instances where the follow through wasn’t the best. The facility itself was a little different than I imagined- it was a multi-purpose urgent care center- but not very busy so it felt private.
Hello Riley – I am in England at Taymount. 2 treatments in. I have been following your blog looking for more FMT updates. Have you experienced any more improvements?
Hi Fred, Sorry for the delay in getting back to you! I hope your FMT treatment is going (or went) well! Unfortunately, my symptoms came back after I started feeling a little too good and decided to eat potato chips, a sandwich on GF bread, and a GF cookie all in the same day! My digestion and associated symptoms haven’t been the same since. I have considered returning to the Bahamas for additional FMT top ups, but it isn’t feasible for me at this time. I have had to rely on antimicrobials to reset every now and then.
Ghulam N. says
I hope you ar doing well now.
I was reading original article and your experience on FMT. How are you doing now. Do you think it is woth trying FMT. I see some good stories about FMT too on the internet. It seems it works for some people and not for all. I have seen an article where it says stool from siblings works better than general donors.
Please share us your experience with it.
Hi Ghulam, I am doing fairly well now, but certainly don’t have perfect health (though who really does!). I am able to eat a generally healthy diet and feel a lot better than I used to, but do still have intolerances to some foods and rely on supplements at times to keep my digestion running smoothly. I still struggle with chronic allergies and a tendency toward gas and constipation, especially at certain times in my cycle. Hope my honest story is helpful!
I used an alternative clinic in Australia. They are real microbiologysts. I still have sibo but where before i used to have alergic reactions and i was sick after eating anything, now i can eat everything. They have real microbiologysts and it sounds like you have not done a microbiome analysis to see how it looks like before and after…But if just want the protocol, i can share a bit my expirience…
I was at The TAYMOUNT Bahamas Clinic in March 2020.
Unfortunately a pandemic hit and I had to leave the Island on the last flight March 17/2020 with 5 implants to do at home.
I think perhaps if I had been able to finish the treatment at the clinic my results MAY have been different.
As of 2022, everything is the same.
Basically just a waste of money.
Back to eating very simple food, cooking my own food and still ending up on the toilet.
Hating the control over my life for over 50 years.
What a bummer! I’m sorry that was your experience, Lisa!